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A good new starting point for electoral reform

I was asked in the prior thread about someone seeing post that seemed to make a lot of sense how to go about proposing electoral reform federally, or possibly even provincially.† That would be this post by A PG Liberal. I’m not particularly crazy about throwing the added complication of trying to reform the Senate as well – since that will require the Constitution to be amended, and any electoral reforms to the House does not – but it’s a well thought out proposal.

The electoral reformers aren’t disappearing quietly into the night.

If people were to listen to the Toronto Star editorial board and some of their columnists like Ian Urquhart, the defeat of the proposed MMP electoral reform in Ontario means those of us who believe that electoral reform is needed should all disappear and go away and stop talking about it, and the current system is just fine and dandy, and nothing needs fixing.

Well, Toronto Star and Ian Urquhart, my particular response is, we aren’t going to disappear into the night, and the current electoral system is definitely in need of fixing. Some proof of that are the following:

– When only 52% of eligible voters bother to show […]

The so-called nonpartisan panel on Afghanistan is anything but.

I get the feeling Harper was looking at the Iraq Study Group in the US as a model when he came up with this idea of a panel to look at Afghanistan. However, this panel is anything but nonpartisan, though Harper is trying to claim otherwise.

Three of the five members of the panel are former Conservative cabinet ministers, ambassadors, or advisers, and John Manley, though a likable enough guy, is someone I consider on the right of the Liberal Party, and as pointed out here, fully supported the Afghanistan mission. That may not mean he supports it being extended beyond 2009, of course, but with the lack of any […]

On the Environment

– Remember when former US Vice-President and now noted environmentalist Al Gore called the Conservative climate change plan “a complete and utter fraud.. designed to mislead the Canadian public” and Environment Minister John Baird had a public meltdown? For that reason, I somehow doubt Baird will be sending Al Gore a congratulatory note for him co-winning the Nobel Peace Prize:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and […]

NICA

When you’re involved in a cause such as electoral reform, even if you aren’t on the winning end, you get to meet some real cool people who are involved in very laudable causes of their own. I met one such person at Facebook named Miriam ( I won’t give her last name out in case she wants it kept private), but she’s a member at large of the board of this charity based in Canada called NICA – short for Nicarauga Initiative For Community Aid.† Its mandate is described as this, which I will quote a bit of:

The Nicaragua Initiative for Community Aid (NICA) is a Canadian-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing nutritional and educational support to pre-school children in some of the poorest neighbourhoods of Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua.

I talked to Miriam and asked her how this got started, and it apparently was from a group of them going there when they were in their teens and noticing that some of the poor women in the Manauga neighbourhoods were pooling their resources to help the kids get some food and education by creating soup kitchens/pre-schools. Miriam and these other Canadians decided these folks could use some help with resources to help carry on these programs, and they finally formed what is now NICA, to help support these women carry on their programs (called ollas communales or “community pots”).

Miriam tells me it’s a registered charity which raises about 4500$/year to help these women continue these programs. When I heard about this from her, I just felt I had to give NICA some publicity and some props – The United Church which I attend has done similar initiatives, and our local youth group (of which I’ve been one of the leaders)† has also pitched in and helped in similar fashion, so this effort really appeals to me.

If you’d like to make a donation to help NICA, you can do so here.

Another frustrating thing..

Wanted: 1 spare server to put an aggregate with 380+ affiliates called Progressive Bloggers on and to host us. Must not crash on heavy activity days or the day after heavy activity days.

Some sobering statistics

Just highlighting my fellow bloggers frustration:

the Liberals got 22% of eligible voters to cast a vote for them yesterday and they’ll now be able to do pretty much what they like for the next 4 years. There are 8,308,702 eligible voters in Ontario. Dalton Mcguinty needed the support of less than 2 million of them to win a comfortable 4 year “majority” government (1,859,710 votes at last count)..Sadly, the Referendum on electoral reform was also “SOUNDLY” defeated yesterday. A whopping 31% of eligible voters chose to keep our current electoral system, so we’re keeping our current electoral system

MMP was defeated by those who bothered to show up last night to vote on it, which was obviously not a heck of a lot of people. It may be a dead proposal, but when you see numbers like what LKO pointed out, I find it hard to believe that proponents of the status quo will claim that these numbers somehow show the current system is just hunky-dorey. † I also don’t buy that the current fixed election date needs to be changed to a different month and that will somehow magically lift the voting percentage. 4 years ago, there was no fixed election day in October, and only 54% of Ontarions bothered showing up to vote – a previous low that we decided to make even worse this time around.

Electoral reform needs to happen in some form.† I don’t know if its going to take an election with less then 50% turnout to get people to figure that out, but I don’t accept a system where half the people dont for some reason show up to vote, and it only takes 22% of all eligible voters to vote for a certain party to give them 2/3 of the seats in the legislature, whether its for the party I support or not.

As I said, the electoral reform battle is just beginning.

A note of hope for electoral reform prospects in the future.

According to this Green Party member: among voters aged 18-34, MMP received 67% support. So itís not whether we will have electoral reform, itís when.

This is not the end of the electoral reform fight – it’s merely the beginning.

Election/Referendum results thoughts

– The Liberals more or less did what the polls said they would do. Congratulations to Dalton and his team for being the first back-to-back Liberal majority government in Ontario in over 70 years. I’m also pleased to see Maria Van Bommel win here in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, and George Smitherman, who I was helping out a bit as well.

– I’m real surprised at John Tory’s intention of staying on as leader even though he was defeated in his own riding. I wonder if that bravado will change once he meets with his caucus, who wont be happy with his faith-based funding strategy being put out there and made so prominent in the campaign. I’m slightly less surprised at Howard Hampton staying on.. but he got elected at least, and increased his seats and popular vote percentage. The Greens also did very well, even though they didn’t win any seats. Specifically for the Greens, Shane Jolley got 34% of the vote in Huron-Gray-Bruce for a strong 2nd place showing, so congrats to him.

– I’m obviously disappointed at the apparent results of the electoral reform referendum. I’ve heard tonight on TVO from one of the analysts that she saw a lot of voters come in to vote at the advance polls and STILL didn’t know anything about the referendum question or the proposed new system when they saw the question, which tells you how ineffective Elections Ontario was at getting the message out there. Fittingly, the Elections Ontario website has been unable to show either election results OR referendum results because of apparent high bandwidth – which shows they know how to run a website as well as they do an information campaign on a referendum. I’m of the belief a lot of people voted to retain the current system out of lack of information rather then outright rejection – but it will be interesting to see how many voters actually voted on the question as opposed to the actual election.

– Of Ontario’s eligible voters, only 50% voted tonight in the province – a historic low, down 4% from 2003. In some regions, it was down in the 40’s. In the GTA, 48% of eligible voters cast their ballots. In Windsor, it was at 41%, which is not much better then municipal election turnout numbers. I’ll be interested to hear those advocating for the status quo explain how this shows how great and healthy First-Past-The Post is. I’ll also be interested to see what reforms they will advocate for improving our current system since MMP was defeated. I’ll be quite shocked, quite frankly, if we see much of anything. There are principled people on the NO side who want reforms but who couldn’t accept the proposed system. There are many others who will be just as happy to do absolutely nothing and want to keep the current system untouched and who will claim there’s nothing broken, but a 50% turnout rate is disgraceful, and this needs to be addressed in some manner, and it cannot be ignored.

UPDATE: I kind of like the chat feature on here. I think I may keep it active for both this site and for the progressive Bloggers main site.

UPDATE 2: I was actually too high on the voter turnout: From the now working Elections Ontario website, we find this glum stat: only 48% of eligible voters cast ballots tonight, and even less voted on the proposed referendum question – approximately 39.9%.

UPDATE 3, 10:39am: For my No-MMP colleagues,† voter turnout has edged up slightly – still a historic low in Ontario – and the MMP proposal did get voted on by 50.3% of Ontarions – still not very good, and still hardly a sign that democracy under FPTP is very healthy in Ontario.

Livechat about the Ontario election/referendum results

I’m going to try a little experiment with this Geesee LiveChat service that you can add to a blog or website and see if it works ok. Just click on the Live Chat button in the left sidebar and you’ll be in the chatroom. I probably will try this at Progressive Bloggers as well, but I’m more confident it will work here.

A word of warning to potential trolls or disrupters: this site allows the ignoring of disruptive users or the outright banning of them from the chatroom, so behave. I don’t mind if you’re of different political opinions, but I expect the talk to be respectful, and not abusive.

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